When Ajax Cape Town started the year on a high, beating Uthongathi FC 3-1 to overtake them at the top of the GladAfrica Championship standings, it was perceived as a sign that the Urban Warriors were well on their way back to top flight.
Before that defeat, the Cane Cutters had been a solid team and had lost just once and for the Urban Warriors to beat them at home like that was seen as a good sign for Andries Ulderlinks’ side.
Ajax took the lead – a slender one as one point separated them. And they got a chance to increase the lead when the Cane Cutters lost the second game in a row, but Ajax also lost to Steenberg United.
Both have actually lost two games in a row since their meeting earlier in the year and none have taken control of the lead.
But with rumoured problems at the Cane Cutters now said to have been ironed out and coach Johnny Ferreira back in full charge, the KwaZulu-Natal team should be able to again put out gallant performances that saw them become early favourites for the title which comes with automatic promotion to the Absa Premiership.
Boosted by the arrival of experienced campaigners in Siyabonga Nomvete and Thanduyise Khuboni, Ferreira will hope for a positive result when they meet KZN rivals, Richards Bay at uMlathuze Sports Complex tomorrow afternoon.
Real Kings v Steenberg United, at Chatsworth Stadium, 3.30pm
Steenberg have closed in on the leaders and are now third, three points behind Ajax and could jump to the lead should they beat Kings – who are two points behind them – this afternoon.
But the Magic Boys have a mandate of their own and will be at their best especially at home. Joel Masutha’s side have also been doing well but have attracted negative scrutiny due to controversial refereeing decisions going in their favour.
JDR Stars v TS Galaxy, at Soshanguve Giant Stadium, 3.30pm
The Hammer Boys have not had a good start to the year and their owner coach, Nditsheni Nmasisi has apologised to the club’s supporters for the slump.
“We understand the supporters’ frustration when the team is not doing well. Those who have been with us long enough will know that this phase happens every season but we end up competing. 3 May is still very far,” he said.
Nemasisi will ope for a change in fortune against Galaxy who have also not been getting favourable results.
University of Pretoria v FS Stars, at Tuks Stadium, 3.30pm
Another team who have had a good start to the year are Free State Stars who are on a four-game unbeaten run since Milton Dlamini took over as coach. They have drawn one and won three, taking them up to ninth and within a casing distance for at least a place in the playoffs. AmaTuks have meanwhile had a bad start, losing two in a row after a good start to their season.
Swallows FC v Jomo Cosmos, at Dobsonville Stadium
The Dube Birds, who are on a four-match winning streak, have moved up to fourth, five points behind Ajax and a win against Jomo Cosmos at Dobsonville Stadium this afternoon could see them jump to an even higher position.
Tshakhuma v Mbombela United, at Thohoyandou Stadium, 3.30pm
Two draws and a win have been good results that Duran Francis has managed since arriving at Tingwenyama but he faces what is probably the biggest test of his tactical acumen against Tshakhuma. The home side have been on good form since the arrival of Vladislav Heric.
Royal Eagles v Cape Umoya United, at Harry Gwala Stadium, 3.30pm
Struggling Eagles have to find a way back after suffering a heavy 5-0 defeat away at Tsakhuma last weekend. The loss is said to have sent the club’s management panicking and they called an urgent meeting with the players where some were fired on the spot. They are up for a real test against the Spirited Ones who have also been blowing hot and cold.